Money and Happiness | “Why would I deprive myself? »

in the newsletter money and happiness, emailed Tuesday, our journalist Nicolas Bérubé offers insights on getting rich, investor psychology, financial decision-making. His texts are repeated here on Sundays.

Posted at 7:00 am

Nicholas Berube

Nicholas Berube

So how will the election of a new government affect your finances?

Well, that’s a tough question. The truth is that our finances should never depend on things as unpredictable and out of our control as the identity of the next government.

Do you want the key to get rich? A rule that has worked for millennia and has nothing to do with François Legault’s state of mind?

Come closer, I’ll tell you, but don’t say it again.

The trick to getting rich is to spend less money than you make.

Whether we’re on minimum wage or CEO of Bombardier, our job is the same: protect the dollars in our pockets.

I hear people here say, “Yes, you have to save to get rich, but it’s not good to save. We only have one life to live. Why would I deprive myself? »

This argument overlooks a fundamental and little-discussed truth: the importance of distinguishing between spending and happiness.

Everything in our society, from advertising to the eyes of the people around us, associates spending with happiness. So much so that these two notions are now laminated together, inseparable from each other.

However, this association does not hold. Do the exercise: ask someone close to you to write on a piece of paper the ten moments or activities that give you the most happiness in life.

People who take the time to do this often write things like “spending time with my kids,” “walking in the woods,” or “laughing at an evening with friends.”

Intuitively, we all know that the activities that give us the most pleasure are not necessarily the most expensive. I’d be surprised (even worried) if someone put “touch my smartwatch” or “wash my new truck” on their list.

I experienced it recently during a nice family day, when we went to see my son play soccer in a nearby neighborhood, before going for a swim in the municipal pool. We made the trip by bicycle, taking a quiet route that I had discovered by consulting Google Maps.

On the way back, we passed an imposing movie set. Later, we find a play in the street where we meet some friends.

At home, since it was late and everyone was hungry, we made pasta with pesto, pesto cooked with the basil that grew like a weed during the summer in our garden.

In my mind, this beautiful sunny day, full of laughter, discoveries and discussions with people I love, is priceless. In fact, it didn’t cost us more than a few dollars.

Did I “deprive” myself that day? Instead of using our bikes, we could have driven a state-of-the-art 2023 SUV financed in 96 months. For dinner, we could have ordered at the restaurant, with a $75 minimum bill for a quickly forgotten meal.

It wouldn’t have made me happier, but it certainly would have made me poorer. The next day, I realized that my credit card balance had just increased. Yet.

Am I still spending a fistful of dollars a day? Certainly not. But those days exist to remind us that happiness cannot be bought.

We only have one life to live. Why would we deprive ourselves?

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